PVT Vincent Leo Crough
Co. C, 83rd Armd Rcn Bn,
32nd Armd Regt, 3rd Armd Div., 1st Army
KIA 27 February, 1945, near Grouven, Germany
-- Daniel F. Crough --
My Dad, whom everybody affectionately called "Vince," was born April 21, 1911, in Syracuse, New York,
the sixth of eight children born to Daniel Patrick and Johanna (Bourke) Crough. He attended St. Lucy's
Academy and was a member of the January 1929 senior class of Blodgett Vocational High School. He played
the violin as a young man and did beautiful pen and ink sketches. In high school, he was a member of the
golf team that won the New York State championship three years in succession. He took a mail-order course
in architectural drafting in later years.
His sweetheart was Sarah Jane McMahon. She was 18 years of age and he was 24 when they married in May 1935.
I was born in February 1936 and named after my grandfather, Daniel Patrick, and my father's favorite older
brother, Daniel Francis, who had been killed in a tragic train-car collision in 1928.
The summer after my fifth birthday, another son was born into our family and named after my father.
Unfortunately, he died a few hours after birth from the Rh Factor, which was unknown to medical science at
the time. For 15 years prior to his joining the United States Army, my father worked at the Warehouse of
the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, and was foreman of the Packers' Supply Division when he was drafted.
Dad was drafted and entered the US Army on April 5, 1944 at age 33, joining two of his brothers in the service
of their country. He trained at: Fort Meade, MD; Fort Knox, KY; Camp Chaffee, AR; and Fort Ord, CA, where his
unit practiced amphibious landings. He had never held a gun before basic training, yet he won several medals
My father was the gunner in an M24 "Chaffee" light tank, part of a reconnaissance unit in the storied Third Armored
"Spearhead" Division of the First Army. He participated in the Allied counteroffensive in the "Battle of the Bulge,"
and was killed as the push to Cologne began, less than two months after arriving in Europe.
Dad was originally reported missing in action as of March 2 in the Morning Report for Company C dated March 5, but
that report was corrected and his death recorded as of March 2, in the Morning Report dated March 13. I learned on
July 4, 2001, in a chance encounter with a veteran of Company C who joined the unit on the same day as my father,
that Dad actually was killed on February 27, 1945, near Grouven, Germany. Because his tank burned after being hit,
it took several days to identify his remains.
On that fateful day, the 83rd Reconnaissance Battalion was operating in two Battle Groups. My father's platoon of
tanks was in a column with A Company infantry. Combat interviews with officers of the 83rd contain this report:
"Meanwhile, the attack was being organized on the town of Grouven (2060). It was launched at 1100, with A company
moving in open formation across the field on both sides of the road to Grouven. It hit very heavy opposition and
lost three of its five tanks to enemy AT fire."
The telegram from the War Department informing of his death was delivered by the neighborhood telegrapher to my mother
on March 22, 1945, while I was at school. As I made the long walk home from school that day and neared my house, a
neighbor who was clearing the sidewalk of snow said to me: "I'm sorry to hear about your Dad." I had no idea what he
was talking about until I crossed the street to my house and my mother and one of her sisters were there to greet me
with the unwelcome news.
I learned many years later that Dad had told his oldest brother that he did not expect to return when he was shipped
overseas. I know he must have had confidence that my mother could face the future without him if that became necessary.
His confidence in her was well placed. A 28 year-old widow with a 9 year-old son, she exhibited remarkable strength of
character and carried on in the best tradition of the times. Since her own mother had died in November 1944, Mom even
provided a home for two of her brothers when they returned from military service.
My Dad was a loving father and we were very close. We went to church together, enjoyed ice cream sodas at the drugstore
afterwards, and played baseball and football in the park. When he came home from work, he always seemed to have a treat
for me in his lunchpail. We had a lot of fun together and our family took vacation trips, although Dad never owned a car.
He had a super smile and a great sense of humor but, in the Irish tradition, he was a strict disciplinarian. I felt the
yardstick a few times when I was disobedient, but I loved him very much. All he had to do was whistle, and I came running.
While I grieved his death as would be expected, I felt his strength and inspiration as I resolved to become the "man of the
house." It was what I thought he would want me to do. In later years, I kept him on my mind and in my heart by displaying
the Stars and Stripes in my office throughout a business career that I think would have been a source of pride to him.
Dad's mutilated body was interred temporarily at Henri-Chapelle Cemetery in Belgium. In late 1947, his remains were
returned to his native Syracuse. After a very moving military funeral, he was buried in the shadow of the Crough family
monument in St. Mary's Cemetery alongside his father, his brother Daniel Francis, and his infant son. My mother, who
remarried in 1949 and had two more children, is buried elsewhere in the same cemetery, having died in 1972.
In an ironic twist of fate, my wife and I became "Oma" and "Opa" when our first grandchild (a girl) was born in Germany
on Thanksgiving Day 1984, less than 100 miles from where my father was killed. Our son-in-law at the time was a civilian
working in Germany under a contract with the United States Air Force. Our granddaughter, and the eight other grandchildren
who have followed, are Dad's happy legacy.
I am forever grateful for the nine years of love, friendship, encouragement and guidance I enjoyed with my father. It was
enough to last a lifetime!